Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, 24th ISUF 2017 - City and Territory in the Globalization Age

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Case study on emerging trends in geospatial technologies for study of urban form
Ming-Chun Lee

Last modified: 15-05-2018


Geographic Information System (GIS) has been used to study urban form over the past decades. It is particularly useful to measure quantitative variables of urban form, such as density, clustering, proximity, accessibility, etc. Overall, GIS has been an effective tool for researchers in the field. However, GIS as its own field has continued to evolve in a rapid pace. Recent development in the area of geospatial technologies offers new possibilities with new toolsets for spatial analysis and data visualization. This paper traces recent major trends in GIS and discusses their implications to the field of urban form study. These trends include the following: 1) Increase in dimensions with 3D GIS: conventional 2D maps are being replaced by interactive 3D models generated by procedural rules stored in GIS. Along with locations and associated attributes, vertical elevation and architectural details are also represented. 2) Integration with remote sensing: remote sensing not only enables 3D visualization with imagery processing but also provides other spatial information to create meaningful analysis results. For instance, LiDAR point-cloud data allow extraction of built forms and identification of physical features and land covers. 3) Cloud-based GIS: web-based GIS services allow centralized access to location-based information. Yet through distributed mobile platforms, real-time data collection, sharing, and collaboration are done seamlessly in the cloud. 4) Integration with virtual reality: virtual reality creates immersive experiences with a perception of being physically present in a non-physical world. GIS can greatly enhance the accuracy and realism of virtual scenes with up-to-date terrain models, street networks, and 3D features. This paper identifies best practices from two recent projects in North America. It then discusses an on-going project and demonstrates the potentials of these new emerging GIS tools for study of urban form.

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